CHICAGO (AP) Former NHL defenseman Steve Montador was remembered Sunday for being a solid teammate and for his work with the players' union.
Montador was found unconscious in his home in Mississauga, Ontario, early Sunday morning and was later pronounced dead, according to the Peel Region Police. He was 35. No foul play was suspected.
''Steve was a great person who quickly became a friend of everyone he came to know in the game; teammates, NHL club staff, the media and fans,'' Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, said in a statement.
''Over the course of his career, he was an active member of the NHLPA and someone who I and our entire staff enjoyed working closely with. He dedicated a lot of his time to advancing the interests of his fellow players. On behalf of the players and staff, we send our thoughts and prayers to Steve's family and his many friends. He will be greatly missed.''
Montador made his NHL debut in 2001 with Calgary and played for six teams in parts of 10 seasons. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native had 33 goals and 98 assists in 571 career games.
''The NHL family was saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Montador,'' Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. ''Steve's career was defined by a passion for the game and a determination that made him a great teammate as well as a respected opponent. We extend our deepest sympathies to Steve's family and friends.''
Montador had five goals and nine assists in 52 games with Chicago in his last NHL season. He suffered a concussion in February 2012 and played in just one game the rest of the year.
''He was a leader in the locker room,'' Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said after Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over Pittsburgh. ''He did a lot for the union on our team, and then league-wide. He was friendly with everybody and a great teammate. It's really disappointing to hear the news before the game. We're going to support each other, support his family and all of his close friends, and get through it.''
Some players praised Montador on Twitter for being a mentor at the start of their careers.
''So sad to hear the passing of my former teammate Steve Montador,'' former Sabres teammate Luke Adam wrote. ''I will always remember how good you were to me as a rookie, Monty.''
The Sabres and Blackhawks also expressed their condolences in team-issued statements, professing a deep sadness over Montador's death.
''Steve was a passionate hockey player, a valued member of the Sabres family and a highly respected individual off the ice. Our thoughts and condolences are with Steve's family and friends during this difficult time,'' Buffalo said in its release.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap